Museum Blog

What’s That Smelt?

The American Zinc-Lead Company was built in 1891 at an expense of $200,000 dollars just to the east of 4th Street and Prospect Heights. It was constructed with the purpose of handling ore which contained zinc and copper. In the first 18 months of operation, 1,7000 car loads of ore and fuel were consumed with 160 cars of zinc-led pigment and copper matte sent out. Inc-lead white was sold all over the country as a white lead substitute. The president in 1892 was J. Q. Bennett of Boston and Dr. F.L. Bartlett as manager of the plant. When built, the plant covered 13 acres of ground. According to a brochure in 1898, the company employed 60 men.

In 1899 the smelter enlarged to three times its former capacity. F. L. Bartlett, H. L. Hollister, J. Q. A. Whittimore, and Charles Whittimore purchased the Boston interest and changed the name to the American Zinc-Lead Smelting Company. Six bag houses, a furnace building, sampling works, a copper shop, a barreling house, two refineries, and machine shops were added. The output of the new plant was estimated to be over three hundred tons daily with 225 men needed to run production.

The company changed hands in 1902 and became the United States Smelting Company. Only a year later, a fire caused upwards of $100,000 to $300,00 worth of damage to the plant. While it was covered by insurance, the plant closed for several months for repairs. The Standard Metal and Chemical Corporation of Denver purchased the 22 ½ acres of property in 1922 for $45,000.

American Zinc and Lead Smelting Company, ca. 1900. Object ID: 1997.034.001; Copyright Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center.

The information presented in this article is compiled using research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.

2 thoughts on “What’s That Smelt?

    1. Hi John,
      The plant was located just to the east of 4th Street and Prospect Heights. Please feel free to contact is with any more questions!

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